In 2016, acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that two men have been sentenced to lengthy terms in state prison for their roles in an international drug ring – allegedly led by a Jamaican recording star – that used the U.S. Mail and other parcel delivery services to ship multiple kilograms of cocaine from California into New Jersey.
Juan M. Cortez, 43, of Vineland, N.J., was sentenced today to eight years in state prison, including two years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley in Camden County. His co-defendant Angel R. Rivera, 35, of Vineland, was sentenced by Judge Kelley to 10 years in state prison, including 3 ½ years of parole ineligibility, on June 12. Both men pleaded guilty previously to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Deputy Attorney General Julia S. Glass prosecuted the defendants for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
The two men were charged in a Jan. 10, 2014 indictment stemming from “Operation Next Day Air,” an investigation led by the New Jersey State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Division of Criminal Justice. Also charged in the indictment were the alleged leaders of the narcotics ring, Jamaican recording artist Andrew K. Davis, 37, of Kingston, Jamaica (formerly of Swedesboro, N.J.), who records under the names “Flippa Mafia” and “Flippa Moggela,” and his brother, Kemar Davis, 24, of Hollywood, Calif. (formerly of Margate, Fla.). During the investigation, detectives seized over 26 kilos of cocaine, worth approximately $910,000, two handguns, and over $500,000 in cash. Andrew and Kemar Davis face pending charges including a first-degree charge of leading a narcotics trafficking network, which carries a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.
Cortez and Rivera were arrested on March 11, 2013 at the Cherry Hill Mall. They had taken delivery of a kilogram of cocaine at the mall, allegedly from co-defendant Marsha G. Bernard, 33, of Cherry Hill. When the men were arrested, the cocaine was discovered in a hidden compartment in Rivera’s vehicle. A stolen handgun later was seized at Rivera’s residence. Charges are pending against Bernard.
“We won’t allow the U.S. Mail and other parcel services to be used as unwitting couriers for major drug traffickers such as these defendants, who were moving large volumes of cocaine across the country and into our communities in New Jersey,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Once drug shipments were detected, the partnering agencies tracked the operations of this criminal enterprise, seized more than 26 kilos of cocaine, and built the strong case that led to these lengthy prison sentences.”
“Working with our federal partners, as well as state, county and local law enforcement, we ensured that the reach of the law was long enough to capture the leaders of this transnational drug syndicate,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “After seizing cocaine worth nearly a million dollars in New Jersey, we arrested the alleged ringleaders in Los Angeles.”
“More than $1.4 million in drugs and cash, along with handguns, were seized from this well-established distribution network that spanned the continent from New Jersey to California and down to Jamaica. Operation Next Day Air required us to work seamlessly with our local, county and federal partners to dismantle this active drug ring,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division stated, “These lengthy prison sentences send a clear message that dealing in illegal narcotics will not be tolerated. This investigation highlights that international borders will not deter law enforcement from pursuing those who seek to break the law.”
Four other defendants in Operation Next Day Air were sentenced previously:
James C. McBride, 42, of Mount Laurel, was sentenced on Nov. 21, 2014 to 16 years in state prison, including eight years of parole ineligibility. He pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. McBride was arrested on March 15, 2013 outside the Cherry Hill Mall after taking delivery of three kilos of cocaine from co-defendant Sidonie McLeod.
Sidonie McLeod, 30, of Cherry Hill, was sentenced to five years in state prison on Jan. 16 after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge.
Ruan Rose, 42, of Philadelphia, Pa., was sentenced to four years in state prison on Feb. 13 after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge.
Hioka N. Myrie, 34, of Philadelphia, Pa., was sentenced to three years in state prison on Feb. 20 after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge.
The charges against the remaining defendants are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Andrew Davis, Kemar Davis, Marsha Bernard and Roger Davis, 37, of Roslyn, Pa. who is another brother of Andrew and Kemar, currently are scheduled for trial beginning in September.
The investigation targeted the ring’s shipment of large quantities of cocaine through parcel delivery services to New Jersey for bulk distribution to other narcotics suppliers and dealers. Andrew Davis allegedly led the ring’s drug trafficking activities from various locations in Jamaica, California and New Jersey, along with his brother Kemar. The investigation began in March 2011, when detectives and agents from the Camden High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office seized two packages from a mail facility in Marlton allegedly destined for receipt by Andrew Davis and Marsha Bernard. Each package contained four kilograms of cocaine.
In December 2012, Andrew and Kemar Davis traveled to Jamaica. Andrew remained in Jamaica, but he allegedly continued to control the ring’s activities by directing Kemar and others. Kemar returned to the U.S. and allegedly oversaw the shipment of kilogram quantities of cocaine from California to New Jersey. Bernard and other defendants allegedly received the drugs and distributed them to dealers in New Jersey, under the direction of the Davis brothers. Bernard allegedly handled the drug proceeds, sending them to Andrew Davis in Jamaica and Kemar Davis in California.
Detective Sgt. Erik Hoffman of the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression South Unit was the lead case agent on the investigation. Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the following agencies that participated in Operation Next Day Air with the New Jersey State Police, DEA and Division of Criminal Justice: U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Cherry Hill Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, Camden Office